Hegel HD30 32-bit/192kHz DAC
Hegel founder Bent Holter's has said that the HD30 is the most significant product they have ever released according to Enjoy the Music.com reviewer Greg Weaver. While he can't swear to it, as Greg has not heard every Hegel component, but its combination of exquisitely rendered tone (from subterranean depths to stratospheric reaches), complex and exacting texture, and dynamic expressiveness (micro and especially macro!) is impressive. Furthermore, the Hegel HD30 produces a relaxed, natural yet detailed, vivid, and comprehensive presentation with class-exceeding resolution. There is a spacious, focused staging and imaging that Greg is more than inclined to love the sound quality offered by the Hegel HD30. Based solely on how it sounds, Greg would have guessed it retailed for easily twice its $4800 asking price!
While the anodized aluminum case of the HD30 is impeccable constructed and beautifully finished, its appearance may be seen as more utilitarian that posh to many. The faceplate itself is not flat, but rather, slightly rounded left to right and top to bottom; sort of a section of a sphere. Its layout is fully symmetrical, with a 5" wide by 1" tall display centered left to right, but slightly below the center line vertically, with the HEGEL logo centered just above it. When powered on, the blue lit display shows selected input (AES, BNC, CO1, OP1, OP2, OP3, USB, NET) in the left half, while the volume attenuation (1-100, with 101 displayed when set to volume bypass) is displayed to the right. An inch-and-a-half diameter knob, one each, immediately to the display's left and right, control input selection (left), and the volume (right).
Moving to the back, we see three distinct sections left to right, analog outputs, digital inputs, and AC. Outputs are grouped by right (XLR and RCA) and left (RCA and XLR), so the single-ended outputs are side by side, while the balanced outputs are outside each of the RCA jacks. The digital inputs are grouped as AES/EBU, BNC, Coax1, Optical 1, Optical 2, and Optical 3. Next is a 3.5 mm IR Input jack (for external control cable), an up/down USB Mode selector. When up, in the A position, you have the default plug & play mode, supporting up to 96kHz and 24-bit, while down, the B position, supports up to 192kHz and 24 bits resolution, and native DSD64/128. That is followed by the USB and RJ-45 network cable inputs. The final section to the right, includes the fuse block, the on/off toggle switch and the IEC socket.
"If you are a die-hard analog hound like me, or have just eschewed using a digital playback system for whatever reason (as I did until about three years ago), this may be the perfect time, and most affordable device, to get you into remarkably satisfying, enjoyable digital playback," says Greg Weaver. "The Hegel HD30 has changed how I look at (and listen to) DACs under $8000. I can't imagine you could find anything to quibble with at its price... You will be one satisfied music lover."
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